Monday, September 17, 2007

A Better iPhone for ....$133

From The Japan Times:


At the end of an alley in Taiwan's most violent city, a black Mercedes-Benz sedan blocks a sliding-glass door that opens only from within. Inside, technophiles can buy iPhone knockoffs for two-thirds the legitimate price.

With a touch-screen and Apple Inc.'s logo on the back, the "iClones" look just like the real thing. Apple won't offer iPhones — which combine a phone, music and video player with wireless Internet — in Asia until 2008. The owner of the shop in Sanchung, a Taipei suburb, says he began selling "aifungs" in December, six months before the iPhone went on sale in the U.S.

"We can't ignore iPhone because it's so hot," says Ben, who spoke on condition he be identified only by his first name because selling pirated phones is illegal.

The clones show how fast Asian counterfeiters move. Ben says his company designed the fakes from pictures posted on the Internet before Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone in January. Knockoffs cost the global economy $650 billion annually, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates. Apple spokeswoman Jennifer Bowcock wouldn't discuss how much the company loses as a result of phony products.


"The guts aren't hard," Ben says. "The hard part is the design and the exterior."


In Sanchung, Ben's clones carry a notice in fractured English that reads: "Waring. It will break the law without authorized by Apple Inc., if you use 'iPhone' logo on any electronic pruducts."

While the knockoffs resemble iPhones, they don't use Apple software. Ben says his phones have the advantage of working on any network, while iPhones connect only to AT&T Inc.'s system.

"It's the exterior we are imitating," Ben says. "If customers want functions, we can offer more and much better functions than the real phone."

"My iPhone-Fu is Greater Than Your's Mr. Jobs."

More iPhone clones and killers here.